PORTLAND — We’ve seen this movie. After 26 years and more than two dozen sequels, some good, many very, very, bad, it’s time to roll the credits.
On Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium, we saw the 26th state championship game under the current format of the Pine Tree Conference Class A winner taking on the Southern Maine Activities Association winner. For the 24th time, the SMAA was victorious.
Thornton Academy beat Lawrence High School, 37-23. It was a close game, but like almost every Western Maine Class A team over the last two and half decades, the Golden Trojans had a little too much of everything for Lawrence to handle.
“Give them a lot of credit for their execution on offense. They kept the pressure right on us in the second half. We just couldn’t make up for the difference,” Lawrence head coach John Hersom said. “Both teams played pretty strong out there.”
Saturday’s game tied the mark for the closest Class A state championship game since Lawrence beat Gorham in 2006 (Bangor lost to Windham, 35-21 in 2009), and there was still a two touchdown margin of victory for Thornton. Bangor and Lawrence wins in 2001 and 2006 aside, no Class A East team has stayed within a touchdown of its Western opponent since Bangor lost to Massabesic, 26-21, in 2000.
The case can be made that the 2012 Lawrence football team was the best team to come out of the PTC A since that gold ball-winning team in 2006. Lawrence won every regular-season game by at least 21 points. This Lawrence team took Fitzpatrick Stadium with 19 seniors. It had speed, it had size and it had plenty of experience in big games.
It still lost by two touchdowns.
Class A football has been broken in Maine for some time. Pick a reason, bigger schools in the SMAA, more innovative offensive play in Western Maine, whatever the reasons, it’s clear that the Western Maine monopoly on Class A gold balls isn’t going to end anytime soon.
With a fourth class soon to be added to Maine high school football, it appears the smaller and shrinking schools currently in Class A East will soon be able to play schools their own size.
Talked about for years, the four class proposal appears to have too much momentum to stop now. The MPA football committee will meet on Nov. 28 to tinker with the numbers again and come up with a system that should work for the most teams. Not everybody will be happy with whatever they propose. Nothing ever pleases everybody.
According to the enrollment figures published in Saturday’s game program, Thornton Academy has 1,384 students. Lawrence has 711 students, which is less than Marshwood (748) and Mt. Blue (730), the two teams that played on Saturday night for the Class B state championship.
As much as some Lawrence fans would like the Bulldogs to petition up and remain in Class A next season, it’s not going to happen. It shouldn’t happen, unless the Lawrence community wants to continue playing in lopsided state championship games.
“I think our kids played their hearts out. A lot of credit to our defense for keeping it close. We’d like to have those turnovers back,” Hersom said.
After the teams shook hands at midfield and plaques and trophies had been awarded, Lawrence senior Spencer Carey looked over his shoulder at the Trojans. Thornton Academy celebrated and accepted its gold ball. Carey wasn’t the first Class A player from Eastern Maine to watch the unbridled enthusiasm that comes with winning the state title.
He might be the last.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242